Odds Favor Hunters As Deer Season Begins
Recent trends indicate the odds favor hunters when they take to the woods today for the opening of Pennsylvania’s two-week firearms deer season.
According to Pennsylvania Game Commission totals, during the 2017-18 deer seasons the number of bucks taken increased for the third consecutive year.
Both the 163,750 bucks and the overall total of 367,159 deer taken was a 10 percent increase from the 149,460 bucks and 333,254 total deer taken during the 2016-17 seasons.
Since the PGC began using its calculated formula in 1986, last year’s buck total is second only to the 165,416 taken in 2002. That was the first year of antler restrictions — which regionally is a minimum of three points on one antler.
“Most of Pennsylvania’s deer are taken by hunters participating in the firearms season,” PGC deer and elk biologist Chris Rosenberry said. “It has been our principal tool for managing deer for more than a century.
“It is the season that draws the largest crowd, and the season for which some rural schools still close their doors on the opener to allow their students — and teachers — to hunt. Opening day of the firearms season is the day every deer hunter wants to be afield.
“It’s almost always the most exciting day of the season and therefore usually offers the greatest opportunity. About a quarter of the season’s bucks are taken on the opener, but firearms season — not just opening day — has the potential to be something special.”
Larger-racked — and older — bucks are making up more of the deer taken with each passing year. In 2016, 56 percent of the antlered bucks taken were 2½ years old or older, and the rest were 1½ years old.
“Older, bigger-racked bucks are more of the norm in the forests of Pennsylvania than they have been for at least a couple decades,” Rosenberry said. “There’s no doubt antler restrictions paved the way.
“It was a big step forward, and today we’re seeing the results for protecting young bucks. Every year, Pennsylvania hunters are taking once-in-a-lifetime bucks, and some are “book bucks” that make the Pennsylvania Big Game Records book or Boone & Crockett Club rankings, or simply win neighborhood bragging rights.”
“Agency deer biologists believe there’s a chance we’ll see the state’s buck total increase for the fourth consecutive year,” PGC executive director Bryan Burhans said. “There’s no doubt something special is happening, and there are some are real wall-hangers out there, but bucks don’t have to be big to be special.
• Dates: Nov. 26 to Dec. 8
Regulations: One antlered deer per hunting license. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
• Licenses: Hunters must possess a valid general hunting license, which costs $20.90 for adult residents and $101.90 for adult non-residents. Each hunter between the ages of 12 and 16 must possess a junior license, which costs $6.90 for residents and $41.90 for nonresidents.
• Tagging and reporting: A valid tag must be affixed to the ear of each deer harvested before that deer is moved. The tag must be filled out in ink by the hunter. Harvests can be reported by calling 1-855-724-8681, by mail or online at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us.
• Photos wanted: If you enjoyed success during deer season, we want to see your photo. Email the photo, your name, hometown and where the deer was shot to email@example.com.